Lisa Lloyd’s experiences at Princeton

Lisa Lloyd has shared a very depressing account of what her experiences were like at Princeton in the 1980s, including both recurring sexual harassment from Paul Benacerraf and manifestly unjustified dismissal of the quality of her work.  You can read the relevant bits of her account over at the Daily Nous here.  Or you can listen to her full story on the SciPhi podcast here.

 

Thanks for sharing this, Lisa.  I know it’s not easy to do.

“Everyone fucking knew”

A Hollywood screenwriter has written a powerful post, describing the way that everyone knew Weinstein was up to something bad, even if they didn’t know the details– and the reasons they went along with it.  And apologising.  He also notes the shock so many in Hollywood are expressing and calls bullshit on that.

Unsurprisingly, this has me thinking about the world of philosophy. I’m a pretty well-informed person when it comes to harassment in philosophy, and yet I am still sometimes shocked when a big story breaks.  So it’s not the case that *everyone* knows.  However– without fail– within days I discover that in a particular department, or a particular sub-discipline, it really was true that everyone knew– or at least strongly suspected.  And this is morally important, as these people are letting it continue, and not blowing the whistle.  (Well, some of them are trying to stop it, but not enough, or not the powerful enough people.)  And you know what else?  I often discover that some of the people expressing shock and horror on fb are actually within the circle of the “everyone” who knew that things were happening which shouldn’t have been– they were at the parties in professional settings at which sex workers were hired; they were at the department events held in strip clubs; they saw the moves being made by the professionally powerful older man on the professionally powerless younger woman.  And they just let it go on, expressing shock and horror only when it hit the headlines.

Sometimes I feel like there’s something to this adapted quote:

“if [disgraced philosopher]’s behavior is the most reprehensible thing one can imagine, a not-so-distant second is the current flood of sanctimonious denial and condemnation that now crashes upon these shores of rectitude in gloppy tides of bullshit righteousness.”

After all, some people are in a position to declare “no more department events at the strip club”, and to make that happen– it’s clear what these people should do.  It’s an important and baffling failure when they fail to do this.  What’s needed is not even difficult.

But individuals are not the whole of the problem.  We also need to think about institutions.  We desperately need to reform the way that departments and universities deal with sexual harassment.  Currently the university’s main interest is almost always adverse publicity– which means that victims and witnesses are silenced, and perpetrators are all too often quietly handed packets of money to go away.  There’s a nice discussion here of ways that institutions could be reformed.

And on an individual level we also need to think about the more complex cases in which people feel they don’t know how to intervene: e.g. the older man isn’t from the same department as the younger woman, and they can’t really tell whether what they’re seeing is mutually desired, or they have less institutional power (they themselves are just a student, and fear the consequences of objecting).  However, even in these cases, there *are* things to be done.  One could sit down next to the younger woman, join the conversation, offer her a way out in case she wants it (“some of us are going for pizza– want to come?”).  A colleague from another department could talk to the older man, remind of him of his professional power, and the potential problems that brings with it.    A student may not be able to safely intervene, but they may be able to check in with a fellow student, and see if they’re OK.  And they may be able to to raise issues with a sympathetic faculty member (though identifying these can sometimes be hard).

So did everyone fucking know, in all the philosophy cases?  In lots of cases, with appropriate domain restrictions in place, YES.  And we need to do something about all the reasons that this isn’t stopping the harassment.  I’d really love to see a widespread effort on the part of philosophers to think through ways that we can reform our profession– from individual actions to institutional change.  I hereby invite a discussion of this topic in the comments.  But please no identifiable discussion of individual cases or departments.

CFP: Risk (Duquesne Women in Philosophy)

Call For Papers

Duquesne Women in Philosophy on :

R I S K

To be held: April 7, 2018
Keynote Speaker: Jeanine Weekes Schroer
(University of Minnesota Duluth)

Duquesne Women in Philosophy (D-WiP) invites papers and abstracts on the theme of “risk.” Full papers of approximately 3,000 words suitable for a 20-minute presentation will be prioritized, although substantial abstracts (a minimum of 700 words) are also welcomed. Full-paper submissions should be accompanied by an abstract of 250 words or less. Due to the underrepresentation of women’s work in philosophy, we encourage the participation of women authors. However, all submissions will receive blind review. For blind review, authors should not include their names or affiliations in the text.

Possible areas include but are not limited to:

Experiences/phenomenology of risk
Epistemology and ontologies of risk
Critical race approaches to risk
Social change and risk
Living with risk
Capitalism and risk
Risk and disability studies
Risk and the body/self
Politics and risk
Risk in normative theory/applied ethics/bioethics
Feminist approaches to risk

Please send submissions as a single document prepared for blind review to dwipcontact@gmail.com by January 1, 2018. For more information, please contact dwipcontact@gmail.com

Gender and Two-Body Problems

Abstract:

Junior faculty search committees serve as gatekeepers to the professoriate and play vital roles in shaping the demographic composition of academic departments and disciplines, but how committees select new hires has received minimal scholarly attention. In this article, I highlight one mechanism of gender inequalities in academic hiring: relationship status discrimination. Through a qualitative case study of junior faculty search committees at a large R1 university, I show that committees actively considered women’s—but not men’s—relationship status when selecting hires. Drawing from gendered scripts of career and family that present men’s careers as taking precedence over women’s, committee members assumed that heterosexual women whose partners held academic or high-status jobs were not “movable,” and excluded such women from offers when there were viable male or single female alternatives. Conversely, committees infrequently discussed male applicants’ relationship status and saw all female partners as movable. Consequently, I show that the “two-body problem” is a gendered phenomenon embedded in cultural stereotypes and organizational practices that can disadvantage women in academic hiring. I conclude by discussing the implications of such relationship status discrimination for sociological research on labor market inequalities and faculty diversity.

For the whole article, go here.

Similarity and Enjoyment as predictors of women’s continuation in philosophy

 

Abstract

On average, women make up half of introductory-level philosophy courses, but only one-third of upper-division courses. We contribute to the growing literature on this problem by reporting the striking results of our study at the University of Oklahoma. We found that two attitudes are especially strong predictors of whether women are likely to continue in philosophy: (i) feeling similar to the kinds of people who become philosophers, and (ii) enjoying philosophical puzzles and issues. In a regression analysis, they account for 63% of variance. Importantly, women are significantly less likely to hold these attitudes than men. Thus, instructors who care about improving the retention of women undergraduates should find ways to improve these attitudes – for instance, by demonstrating the ways in which professional philosophers are like them. We will discuss some tentative but intuitively plausible suggestions for interventions, though further research is required to establish the effectiveness of those interventions.

The full article is here.

Excellent article on sexual assault and harassment in academia

This article by Anne McClintock is so rich that it’s hard to pick just a bit to quote.  I strongly recommend reading it.

To start you off, here is her brilliant analysis of why people are so invested in disbelieving rape victims:

Why is society so ready to sympathize with the perpetrator and disbelieve the rape victim? Believing that the perpetrator is innocent, or that he is in the thrall of drink, or that he is basically well-intentioned and guilty only of making a harmless mistake, all these are forms of magical thinking.

Magical thinking about rape allows people to believe in a world that is basically good and wholesome and safe. By speaking out, the rape victim tears the filmy web of magical thinking to tatters. And so the rape victim cannot be forgiven and must be banished, or silenced, or ostracized.

For centuries, rape victims have been blamed and shamed, flogged and beheaded, burned alive, buried alive, tongues cut out, driven out, and almost always disbelieved. How much easier to drown and disown them, and exonerate the perpetrators.

The rape survivor demands that we accept that perpetrators are not exceptional monsters, they are just the ordinary people we know. They are our everyday familiars wearing bathrobes, who turn out, with unspeakable suddenness, to be utter and forever strangers.

Magical thinking allows us to believe that the world is safe if we wear the right clothes, walk the right way, go to the right places, walk home with the right person.

Rape survivors hold up a dark, broken mirror to society that reflects a world without limits, revealing our deepest fears about the fragility of our world, a world where magical thinking is not enough to protect one from power abused with impunity.

There’s also a nice discussion of the self-undermining nature of Laura Kipnis’s own narrative of being the victim of a feminist “witch hunt”:

The strange truth about the Kipnis story is that her Title IX case, a central part of her book and of a lawsuit against her and HarperCollins, rebuts her own arguments. Kipnis was commissioned by The Chronicle of Higher Education to write an essay on campus sexual politics. Students at Northwestern University filed a Title IX complaint because she allegedly took factual liberties regarding a serious sexual misconduct case. Peter Ludlow, an associate professor of philosophy at Northwestern, had been charged with sexually harassing two of his students. Ludlow abruptly resigned during his termination hearing and moved to Mexico. Kipnis befriended Ludlow and a core part of her book engages the case.

Kipnis makes some startling admissions about what she called in a second essay for The Chronicle her “Title IX Inquisition”: “In light of the many horror stories I’ve heard about despotic treatment in Title IX cases, I have to say I was treated extremely courteously.” She confesses she had complete confidence she would win and that “academic freedom would prevail.”

And she indeed won. All charges were dropped. Freedom of speech prevailed. Unwanted Advances makes a familiar claim that campus misconduct hearings are “stacked against the accused”; that there “is no adequate method for sorting legitimate from specious claims”; and that “the safer path is to simply throw everyone accused of anything under a bus.” None of which were true in her case.

Far from a malevolent netherworld of rigged results, Kipnis admits her investigation had been “thorough beyond belief” and that the “investigators had “bent over backward” to clear her. More startling, she confesses with self-sabotaging frankness that she wished the investigation had been “a little less thorough.” She even “half-hoped” she would “be found guilty.”

 

But there’s so much more here– discussions of connections between Kipnis and various right-wing groups, standards of evidence, debunking of false claims about the outcomes of campus disciplinary procedures.  Really, read all of it.

Asta: Reflections on the Hypatia Affair

I’ve been a feminist for a long time, perhaps because I was often the only girl engaged in various activities like sports or math and physics competitions. I don’t know. But for a long time it wasn’t exactly clear how my feminist commitments were expressed in my work, apart from the choice of the subject matter itself, and it is only recently that I have started to articulate more clearly how my feminist commitments are re ected in my methodological commitments. Even as recently as January, I gave a talk where I characterized my book on social categories, Categories We Live By, as feminist, because it was motivated by feminist social justice concerns. How that was reflected in my methodology, as opposed to the subject matter, was unclear.

Then came the Hypatia affair.

Read on.

There’s one thing this author gets wrong

There’s nothing cowardly about failing to speak up when sexually harassed.  It is extraordinary and brave when people do speak up.

 

It must have been my fault. It must have been something I said. Was I flirting with him? I shouldn’t have told that story. I shouldn’t have gone to his hotel room. What can I do about it? Who do I tell? I don’t have enough money for a lawyer. I don’t want to suddenly become unemployable because of something he chose to do to me. Was it that big of a deal? Did I make it up? It wasn’t an assault — it was just, like, an aggressive mirror hold. There are no laws against forcing people to look at themselves in the mirror. I’m fine. I’m tough. I’m one of the guys. It was just a weird thing that happened, and now it’s over, and I’m fine. What if I said something and he stopped me from getting another job? So I made a decision: I chose to stay quiet. I kept working with him. As I said, I’m a coward.

Read the whole thing here.